Functional anatomy of dominance for speech comprehension in left handers vs right handers

Neuroimage. 1998 Jul;8(1):1-16. doi: 10.1006/nimg.1998.0343.


In order to study the functional anatomy of hemispheric dominance for language comprehension we compared the patterns of activations and deactivations with PET and H(2)15O during a story-listening task in two groups of normal volunteers selected on the basis of their handedness. The reference task was a silent rest. The results showed asymmetrical temporal activations favoring the left hemisphere in right handers (RH) together with Broca's area and medial frontal activations. A rightward lateralization of deactivations located in the parietal and inferior temporal gyrus was also observed. In left handers (LH) the temporal activations were more symmetrical as were the parietal and inferior frontal deactivations. Broca's area and medial frontal gyrus activations were present in LH. The direct comparison of RH and LH activations revealed larger activations in the left superior temporal, in particular in the left planum temporale and temporal pole of RH, while LH activated an additional right middle temporal region. Individual analysis of LH differences images superimposed on individual MRI planes demonstrated an important variability of functional dominance, with two LH leftward lateralized, two symmetrical, and one showing a rightward lateralization of temporal activations. There was no relationship between functional dominance and handedness scores. These results are in accordance with data from aphasiology that suggest a greater participation of the right hemisphere in language processing in LH. In addition, the presence of bilateral deactivations of the dorsal route could support the assumption that LH ambilaterality concerns, in addition to language, other cognitive functions such as visuospatial processing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attention / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology*
  • Frontal Lobe / diagnostic imaging
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Parietal Lobe / diagnostic imaging
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Speech Perception / physiology*
  • Temporal Lobe / diagnostic imaging
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed*